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Jacky Goergler, F&B Man

Nov 2, 2018

My name is Jacky Goergler. I’m the Executive Director for Three on the Bund. Basically I’m taking care of all the operations in this company. We have operations here in Shanghai, mainly F&B, but we also have operations in Hong Kong and Guangzhou. I came to Shanghai ten years ago to be in charge of the Jean Georges restaurant, as the General Manager.

At the time, I was working in Berlin, and before that in a Relais & Chateaux hotel in Boston. I worked for Jean Georges for six months, and after that I left the group and went to Germany for three years. He called me back and asked if I wanted to take the job in Shanghai. It was the perfect timing for me. I do love Berlin – it’s one of my favorite cities, an amazing city – but I was really working hard there. It was the old German style, 15, 16 hour days, one day off a week, really German.

So when Jean Georges’ offer came, I was already looking for something different. I didn’t know China at that time, never been to China or to Shanghai. But I came, had a look, and yeah, I fell in love with the place right away. So I spent a couple of years at Jean Georges, and after that I opened Mercato and then Chi-Q. I was leading those projects. A couple of years later the company promoted me, and eventually promoted me to Executive Director.

Shanghai"

I’m from Alsace. I have a classic F&B background. I started working at 15, as an apprentice, in three Michelin star restaurants. I went straight to good places – not the easiest way, at the time – so I worked for a couple of years at the Au Crocodile in Strasbourg, which had three stars. After that I moved to England to another three-star called the Waterside Inn. That was 1998 or 1999. At the time, it was the only three Michelin star restaurant in England. I went there as a sommelier, stayed there for two years and became chief sommelier. I was the youngest chief sommelier at any three-star restaurant anywhere. Eventually I went to the US, but my girlfriend didn’t want to stay in the US. I got a nice offer in Berlin, and after that Shanghai.

The city reminds me in a way of Berlin. It’s a vibrant city, always something, not just in F&B, same as in Berlin. There’s a new theater opening, a new restaurant, a new cinema – it’s that kind of city, always evolving. If you compare it to Paris or London, it’s completely different. Those cities are well-established and that’s it. Sometimes places close, places open, but the energy is not the same. Shanghai really got me, same as Berlin, always moving. There are things to see, things to do every week.

Shanghai"

Shanghai is completely different to how it was when I got here ten years ago but the energy is still the same. New hotels, new places, always opening, always evolving, you can’t see the end of it.

My life has changed a lot since I came. I was much more curious but now I have a baby, so I’m a bit quieter. I have my routine for days off, always starting with a massage. I stopped going to those expat places since my wife showed me a lot of great Chinese massage places, but I don’t know the names – I’d have to ask her. We go to a lot of parks now with the baby.

Shanghai"

If it’s a weekend night and I want Chinese or Cantonese, I go to Hakkasan. It’s still one of my favorites. I’m also a big fan of Mr & Mrs Bund. And Mercato. I know, I know, it sounds like… but even after five years, and eating here every day, sometimes on my day off you see me at Mercato because the food is just good. Those are the big names, for a Friday night. During the week, I let my wife choose the places, more local places in Jing’an, where we live.

I don’t go to Pudong often but I’m a big fan of it. I wouldn’t mind one day living in Pudong. It reminds me of the US in a way. People say it’s quieter than Puxi, which I understand, and it has nice big buildings, it’s clean… I like it. I wouldn’t mind living there, in a compound close to the river.

I don’t plan too far ahead any more. I stopped planning too far ahead. My wife is Chinese, my daughter is half-French, half-Chinese, so I’m here for a couple more years, that’s for sure. I think I’ve passed the “gap”, the “seven year gap”, where people who have been here that long say they are going to leave sometime but you’re just like, sure, we’ll see… We’ll see.

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[Shanghai Famous]:

Shanghai Famous is a SmartShanghai column focusing on people out there in the city makin' the scene. They're out there around town, shaping Shanghai into what it is, creating the art, culture, and life around us. We asked them what's good in Shanghai. We asked them what's bad in Shanghai. We asked them to tell us more, more, more about their wonderful selves.

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